Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hearings Slated For Sunday Sales Referendum Bills

Hearings Slated For Sunday Sales Referendum Bills

Feb. 7, 2008
Hearings are scheduled in Annapolis by Senate and House committees for a Garrett County Sunday sales referendum. Senate Bill 292 and House Bill 276 would enable Sunday sales of certain alcoholic beverages in districts in which a majority of voters approve.

The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will hear public comment on SB 292, introduced by Sen. George Edwards, on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 1 p.m.

The House Economic Matters Committee will hold its hearing for HB 276, introduced by Del. Wendell Beitzel, on Monday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m.

Currently, only two of the county's 19 election districts, the Elbow and Avilton, have limited Sunday alcohol sales. Voters in those areas approved the issue in 1996.

Sunday alcohol sales are only permitted in those two districts from 1 until 10 p.m., and may be made only when a restaurant patron places an order for a meal simultaneously or prior to placing an order for an alcoholic beverages. Bars, liquor stores, and other businesses may not sell alcohol on Sundays in the two districts.

Should the General Assembly and governor approve SB 292/HB 276, the referendum will be presented to voters in the county's 17 other election districts on Nov. 4, during the general election.

If a majority of the votes cast in an election district are for the referred law, it will become effective in that election district on Dec. 15.

The same sales restrictions that are in place in Avilton and the Elbow would also apply to any new districts.

The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will also hold a public hearing on SB 221 on Feb. 14. The bill would establish a Class B beer and light wine license in Garrett County, which could be issued to certain bona fide hotels, motels, inns, or restaurants.

Additionally, the House Environmental Matters Committee has scheduled a hearing for HB 314 on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 1 p.m. This proposed legislation would enable the Garrett County commissioners to establish agricultural districts, and it outlines rules, regulations, and procedures of establishing those districts.

Persons wishing to testify on any bill must sign the witness register by 12:40 p.m. Those with written testimony are asked to submit 20 copies to the pertinent committee staff by noon for distribution prior to the hearing.


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